Monday, May 02, 2011

leader as gardener: a minister of pastor commissioning sermon

On Saturday I was honoured to be invited to speak at a commissioning, of a friend as a family pastor (Uniting church ministry of pastor). They were expecting quite a lot of community folk, particularly younger families. So I needed to all-age friendly and to explain what was happening in understandable categories. Plus I was keen to keep it connected to the church year, and thus the Easter story.

So here’s the sermon, drawing on my faithful friend, Bodge Plants a Seed: A Retelling of the Parable of the SowerChildren's Christian Fiction Books), working with the Easter story (John 20:11-18) and some seeds.

We’re here in honour of all that grows.
All that grows in Robyn
All that can grow in each of us
All that can grow because of God’s Easter garden.

But first a story. It’s one of my favourites, so some of you might have heard me read it before. But like all good stories, I reckon it’s worth hearing again.

Read Bodge plants a seed.

So Robyn, we’re here to honour all that grows in you. Your flowering. (Give her a bunch of sunflowers).

You see, if you google Uniting Church Ministry of Pastor, you find out that in order to be a pastor you need to know some stuff

about God as Trinity, about Jesus, about the church, about the Uniting Church, about the church today, about your boundaries and how to practice professional standards of conduct

Not only do you have to know some stuff, you also get a checkup – a check of your character, personality and your maturity.

Robyn’s life as a seed. And then Robyn’s willingness to grow, to say yes to God in baptism, to say yes to learning more about God, to grow by responding to life’s tough stuff and respond with grace and forgiveness, to flower in offering her gifts and talents for God to use.

And so today we’re here to honour a seed, that has begun to flower. Thanks be to God.

And as soon as we honour Robyn, we find ourselves thinking about ourselves.

Because if Robyn is like a seed, then so are we. (Begin to hand out seeds).
Because if Robyn has grown, then what does it mean for us to grow, for each of us to say yes to our baptism, for each of us to say yes to learning more of the Christian faith, for each of us to show grace and forgiveness when life get’s tough.

And then we wonder if we’ll need some help. We’re seeds and Robyn – you’re a flower, so if you’ve grown, might you be willing to help grow us – to share your knowledge and life learnings with us.

Which helps me make sense of Ministry of pastor. The church sets aside people to help other people flower. If you like, the church sets aside Robyn to be a Bodge. A gardener:
planting us, watering us,
scaring the insects away
weeding, sheltering, supporting.

So that we can flower. Never exactly the same as Robyn. Always lots of variety in God’s garden.

So we’re here in honour of all that grows.
All that has grown in Robyn
All that can grow in each of us
All that can grow because of God’s Easter garden.

You see, in our reading for today, the story of the resurrection of Jesus, begins in a garden.

Do you get it? (click, click, click of fingers)

In case you don’t, the story give you another hint. Mary, when she goes to the garden, thinks she meets a gardener.

Do you get it? (click, click, click of fingers)

You see, Johnʼs listeners grew up hearing about a garden.

The first garden. The Garden of Eden. 
In Genesis 2:8 the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, like Bodge

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

And in this garden, God the gardener sets some boundaries. As any good gardener would do. Kids, please don’t kick your ball into the flowers. Kid’s, please don’t step on the newly planted lettuces please.

Just like God’s garden. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”

And then we find that God, like any gardener I know, not only sets rules, but also simply enjoys their garden, walking, smelling, appreciating in the cool of evening.

In Genesis 3:8 The man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid … But the LORD God called out, “Where are you?”

So the garden changes. What was a garden of friendship becomes a garden of broken relationship. Where people are ashamed and hide from God.

That’s the first garden.
But this is the Easter story.

Because when garden’s get damaged and people get ashamed, when they stop growing and hide their flowers, well, God simply plants another one.

A resurrection garden. Do you get it? (click, click, click of fingers)
With these hints once again of a gardener walking. Enjoying again. Calling for relationship,

Jesus, Resurrecting, re-creating his friendship with Mary
Jesus, Resurrecting, re-creating his friendship with creation, his garden
Jesus, Resurrecting, re-creating, inviting any and all of us to be seeds and sunflowers
To plant and be planted
To water and be watered
To scare and weed
to shelter and be sheltered
to support and be placed.

A wise woman, Julian of Norwich once said,
In this small thing is all of creation! A beautiful sunflower
God made it, God made us,
God cares for it, God cares for us
God loves.

Posted by steve at 10:42 AM

1 Comment

  1. Found this interesting and a challenge to some of the worships I conduct.

    Comment by Bruce Grindlay — May 2, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

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